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Lights, camera, history!

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Crew for FSU student film shoots scenes in courthouse square

By Alice Du Pont

Passing the Gadsden County Courthouse on Saturday, and some visitors might have felt as if they had stepped back in time. That’s because actors, directors and a full film crew were making a short film, which was written and director by Curtis Adair.

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The film is entitled “Little Africa” and is set in Tulsa, Okla., during the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots, perhaps the deadliest in American history, when it was said that 300 blacks were killed.  Adair is a second-year graduate student in the Florida State University College of Motion Pictures. The film, he said, is his major project, which is a requirement for
graduation.

Little is know about the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots. The incident is barely mentioned in history books and has been altogether left out of Oklahoma’s history books, Adair said.

 According to what little is known, a black man named Dick Rowland stepped into an elevator in the Drexel Building in Tulsa, which was operated by a white woman named Sarah Page. A scream was heard, and Rowland became nervous and ran out of the elevator. He was accused of a sexual attack on Page.

 Another version is that Rowland stepped on Page’s foot when he entered the elevator, throwing her off balance. When Rowland reached to keep her from falling, she screamed.

 During that time, a very successful black community thrived in Tulsa and the area was mostly burned to the ground during the riots. It took more than 10 years to restore the community. Part of the film depicts a group of blacks marching to the jail to protest the arrest of Rowland and to declare that the Greenwood Community belonged to those who lived there.

 The 1921 Tulsa Race Riots were the site of the deadliest race riot in American history.

 “Part of this film revolves around a young man, who has passed for white, trying to get his mother out of Tulsa during the riots,” Adair said, adding “it’s a story within a story.”